December 2009


Alert: MOL Changes its Focus for February Blitz
Replacing forklifts with conveyors and guarding hazards

At the time of writing, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) had not yet confirmed the specific focus for its safety blitz in February 2010; clear direction is expected in January. What we do know is that the general emphasis will be on conveyors and guarding, replacing the original focus on forklifts and lifting devices (which will be rescheduled). The change in direction is not surprising. Getting caught in machines represents the third highest injury rate in Ontario (right behind musculoskeletal disorders and falls). Here's a sneak preview on what MOL inspectors might look for in February--a heads up for food retail--based on injury trends related to contact with machinery.

Injuries related to conveyors and machine guarding
Contact with machinery is one of the four major categories of hazards reported on the MOL's rate group profiles. A quick scan points to several service sub-sectors that are at high risk for injuries related to this hazard:

  • Specialty food stores: 14.58% of injuries;
  • Smaller grocery and convenience stores: 8.09% of injuries;
  • Food retail and wholesale: 6.67% of injuries;
  • Equipment rentals and repairs: 5.41% of injuries;
  • Restaurant and catering: 4.87% of injuries.

Injury analysis
The MOL's injury analysis report for Ontario's service sector provides specifics on the nature and source of injuries. In 2008, there were 19,041 lost time injuries in the services sector--34 of which related to powered conveyors, and 669 from getting caught in other types of equipment. Clearly, powered conveyors are not a major issue in the service sector; however, it's likely MOL inspectors will visit firms at risk for guarding issues; for example:

  • Food preparation, handling and distribution operations including grocery stores, deli's, butcher shops and kitchens that use mixers, slicers, meat grinders, etc.
  • Equipment rental and repair stores and workplaces with powered mechanized equipment in work processes.
  • Food retail and wholesale: 6.67% of injuries;
  • Equipment rentals and repairs: 5.41% of injuries;
  • Restaurant and catering: 4.87% of injuries.
ossa.com for updates. As we learn more about the specifics of the MOL's focus for February, we'll post them.

Certification Standards Poised to Change
Public consultation encourages employers to take charge of their future

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is undertaking a
public review to improve its Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) certification program and ensure the highest possible training standards. "Timely," we hear you say. Standards have not been reviewed since 1996, and the world of work has changed greatly since then: increases in part-time work, more service sector jobs, new hazards such as nanotechnology, new chemicals, and the list goes on. Employers have every right and reason to share their views on how JHSC training standards should be updated. Has duration or pricing of the program been an issue, for example? What about renewal of certification status, or the availability of e-learning? Here's how you can effectively weigh in on these points of interest and others, with the least amount of time and effort.

Know why your participation is important
Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions in Canada to enshrine JHSCs in its health and safety legislation and Internal Responsibility System. That means JHSCs and certification training are anchor pieces for both Ontario's prevention system and an employer's workplace--they're here to stay. By participating in the WSIB's public consultation, you're influencing your own future.

How to cut to the chase
Here's what you need to know to add value quickly and efficiently before the February 5, 2010 deadline:

  • The consultation paper is 29 pages long and asks 19 questions, some with multiple parts: You do not have to respond to the entire paper.
  • Scan the issues for discussion, which start on page 9.
  • Determine which sections are of specific interest to you--and respond to those sections. (If you can respond to the entire paper, that would be great.)
  • You don't need to submit beautiful prose: bullet points are fine.
  • Send your written submissions to cristina_campanelli@wsib.on.ca before February 5.

More information for those interested
Here's what you need to know to add value quickly and efficiently before the February 5, 2010 deadline:

What Senior Executives Need to Know About Their JHSC
Role of Committee is to ask questions and flag issues--that's it

Some workplaces believe--incorrectly--that simply having a Joint Health & Safety Committee means they've met their legal obligations. While the existence of a JHSC does observe one part of the Act, it ignores the larger part: the role of the employer, the supervisor, and the worker. If you're a CEO, president, general manager, owner, or if you in any way oversee operations, here's a short, plain summary of the two distinct roles that apply to JHSCs, what types of questions high-functioning committees ask themselves, and three ways you can improve your committee's performance.

What JHSCs can and can't do
JHSCs actually have very little power. Their role is to inspect workplaces practices, and recommend solutions to management; it is not their role to implement a fix. If MOL inspectors write orders for health and safety gaps, the accountability for those gaps and the fix rests with the senior executive or owner--as reports of MOL violations and fines in the tens of thousands of dollars will attest. JHSC members have two roles:

  1. Internal auditors:
    1. Conduct inspections and workplace investigations to make sure their organization's health and safety program is working the way it was designed to;
    2. Make recommendations to senior management about required changes.
  2. Communicators:
    1. Observe the lines of communication from management to worker;
    2. b. Provide a formal mechanism for employees to voice their concerns about health and safety.

Questions that powerhouse JHSCs ask themselves
JHSC members who understand the full potential of their role take a "behavioural," instead of a "light bulb" approach to their work. Looking for burned-out light bulbs, misplaced boxes in the aisle, messy supply rooms, and other physical problems is okay--as far as it goes, which isn't very far. High-functioning JHSCs, on the other hand, analyze the behaviours at the root of the problem by touring the workplace and asking questions such as:

  1. Why aren't light bulbs being systematically replaced when they burn out?
  2. Why do we continually find trip hazards in this corridor?
  3. How should our health and safety program have prevented this injury?
  4. Where's the evidence that managers are talking to staff about personal protective equipment?
  5. When is the last time your manager talked to you about health and safety?
  6. It's been two months since you had WHMIS training--can I ask you a few questions to see how much you've retained?
  7. As an employee, do you know your top three health and safety rights?
  8. As a supervisor, what are your five main responsibilities related to health and safety?
  9. What do you recall reading on the health and safety bulletin board in the last week?

Three immediately effective ways senior executives can boost performance
Research is especially clear on one point: a prevention culture begins and ends with the executive leader's passion for health and safety. Here's what CEOs, owners and other leaders can do to transform the workplace:

  1. Wholeheartedly embrace the goal of zero injuries, illnesses and fatalities. As WSIB Chief Prevention Officer Tom Beegan suggests, make it personal: who would tolerate an injury to oneself, one's family members, or one's co-workers?
  2. Demonstrate to employees that health and safety matters by joining the JHSC for their meetings and inspections at least twice a year.
  3. Make your expectations of supervisors known, and hold them accountable. Supervisor awareness--for example, around the critical issue of orientation training--is often the weak link in an organization's health and safety performance.

Three Stories of an Amalgamation
How FSA, IAPA and OSSA are becoming one

Doing business with OSSA will just get better on January 1, 2010, when we officially amalgamate with two other Ontario health and safety associations: Farm Safety Association (FSA) and Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA). Why the change? Far too many people continue to be injured or killed at work, costing us all emotionally, and costing Ontario businesses millions in lost productivity and revenue. OSSA, FSA and IAPA can do more together to reach "Zero" than standing alone--and here are three stories to prove it.

Integrating three organizations is hard work--made easier when everyone trains their eye on the same goal. These three stories provide a glimpse of FSA, IAPA and OSSA employees collaborating to meet industry challenges, and loving it.

Story 1: What's in a grocery bag
The new reusable grocery bags are a classic case of unintended consequences. Designed to replace plastic bags and take the pressure off the environment, reusable bags come in all shapes and sizes. The problem is cash stations were not designed for their use, which sets cashiers and customers up for sprains and strains due to awkward postures and the weight of loaded bags. Ontario prevention system to the rescue: OSSA and IAPA--in one of their first opportunities to collaborate in a significant way since the amalgamation was announced--joined with Ontario's five biggest grocery chains and three influential grocery and retail trade associations, to develop best practices and guidelines to prevent injuries associated with changes in the bagging process. OSSA represents the service sector and facilitates the project group, while IAPA contributes its expertise in ergonomics. We'll tell you more about this joint venture in a future edition of the Advocate.

Story 2: A collision of services
Auto body repair shops require employees to work daily with hazardous substances and chemicals that could be extraordinarily dangerous if not controlled properly. As part of a six-month blitz that started in October 2009, Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors have been making a broad sweep of auto collision and repair shops in central Ontario. The orders they write most often relate to isocyanates--a chemical found in products used in auto body repair shops, so highly toxic that they are subject, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to special regulations and controls. To support collision repair industry, OSSA has for the first time drawn IAPA into its service offerings by making IAPA's hygiene monitoring and indoor air monitoring services available to OSSA's clients.

Story 3: A warehouse, no matter in what industry, is still a warehouse
Warehouses come in many stripes and sizes: some serving the service sector, others manufacturing. Regardless, one thing warehouses share is a similar list of processes, equipment and hazards. To acknowledge this reality, OSSA joined with IAPA and the Canadian Standards Association to design an agenda and line up speakers for a shared warehouse safety conference in Toronto in November 2009. It went so well that more outreach activities are planned for 2010 that will include the third member of our triumvirate, Farm Safety Association.

Grass roots is where it counts
An amalgamation takes off at the precise moment when it captures the imagination of a critical mass of employees--when those tentative first steps into one another's turf turn into enthusiastic support on the basis of the value it offers to clients.

We have another purpose in sharing these stories: if you see opportunities for an industry-wide initiative to address a common issue, or indeed address any issue on a grander scale, let us know. One of the things OSSA and its partners do best is facilitate an industry-wide, or cross-industry discussion, that could open doors to unexpected solutions.

WHMIS to be "Globally Harmonized" in Canada
Changes will affect every firm in Ontario

Canadian employers and chemical product suppliers: start your engines. Implementation of the new global system for defining and classifying the hazards of chemical products, and for communicating health and safety information on labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS), is inching closer. Companies that enter GHS--"Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals"--into their corporate GPS today, will have an easier time navigating when Canada eventually makes implementation of the new system mandatory. Here's how you can avoid surprises.

What is GHS and why do we need it
Different countries, and even different jurisdictions within the same country, have different systems for the classification and labeling of chemicals: costly for organizations that do business across geographical boundaries, costly for governments that regulate WHMIS, and confusing for workers who want just one set of rules to help them stay safe.

Canada is cooperating with other countries around the world to implement GHS, and was originally targeting its launch for 2008. Putting the necessary regulatory modifications in place will take longer than expected, and the schedule has been pushed out to an as-yet undetermined date. However, rumblings in the media and by governments indicate the effective date is now within sight.

How will GHS affect employers
Employers need to prepare for two potential realities:

  • Standardization through GHS will make education and training simpler; however, employees will need training on both the old and new system until the transition period is complete;
  • During the transition, employers will need to keep up-to-date inventories of all WHMIS products, which could mean maintaining two sets of data sheets: MSDSs for existing chemicals, and the new data sheets, called "Safety Data Sheets" (SDS).

Where you can learn more

How you can keep your ear to the ground
You can also register for Health Canada's email news service, which will alert readers to new information about WHMIS.


How to Make Your Staff Training Sticky
And save a bundle in the process (it's as easy as "pie")

Feeling squeezed between your shrinking budget and demands to optimize employee performance? Here's a way to bridge that gap that seems to have eluded the grasp of many otherwise inventive organizations: stanch the flow of wasted dollars on employee training programs that do little to advance your organization's goals.

"It can be a boondoggle," says Christy Sneddon, Product Developer, Ontario Service Safety Alliance (OSSA). "Many organizations share an unspoken acknowledgement that training is a waste of money. Staff routinely come back with binders that nobody looks at again. Often training is seen as nothing more than a holiday."

Unless employers learn how to make their training sticky, employees are likely to forget 50 per cent of what they learned the day after they're out of the classroom. A week later: 94 per cent. That means for every $1,000 spent on training, an organization ultimately retains $60 worth of benefit. Might as well give it away.

Training that sticks, on the other hand, leads to a return on investment such as improved performance, growth without an increase in the costs of labour, and employee engagement--which in turn leads to less turnover, more commitment, and better customer service.

According to Sneddon, the recipe for making training sticky is easy as PIE: preparation, implementation, and evaluation. Here's how it works.

Preparation: Till the soil
"People think training will solve everything," says Sneddon. "It won't. It won't fix an unmotivated employee. And it won't fix a situation where a person is in the wrong job, or where there's a relationship problem."

Nor will it fix process issues or unclear job descriptions. OSSA shows organizations how to determine whether training is the right solution. If the answer is yes, the next steps are to:

  • Match training type to learning style: Best not to send an ESL employee, for example, to an e-learning course requiring a certain reading proficiency.
  • Describe post-training behaviours: What will staff do differently? What performance gaps prevent them from being effective in their jobs?
  • Discover how employees will benefit: Will the training open doors to career goals, recognition, more autonomy? (Not sure what motivates? Ask the expert.)
  • Know how the company will benefit: How will the training affect corporate goals and objectives; e.g. do you expect to see a reduction in workplace incidents, or increase in production?
  • Till the soil: Meet with staff before the learning to share expectations.

Implementation: Clear the decks
Supervisors play a critical role in allowing effective training to take place:

  • Let your staff actually attend: Remove barriers so people can focus; e.g. banish BlackBerries and cell phones, and avoid venues that tempt staff to visit their work stations to check voicemail and email (especially true for e-learning students).
  • Spread the wealth: Make opportunities for staff to share what they've learned with co-workers at group meetings or one-on-one.

Evaluation: Close the loop
"Often, employers will choose the least expensive training provider or the shorter course," says Sneddon, "but if you're measuring your results, it's soon clear that this is false economy."

  • Work your plan: After the training, meet with staff to revisit the plan you co-created during the preparation phase. Hold yourself and employees accountable for the promises made.
  • Act on lessons learned: If you didn't meet your goals, that too is valuable information. Ask why not, and take steps to avoid repeating the mistake; e.g. stop sending people to the same course or presenter.

Do these barriers prevent learning at your firm?

  1. My boss doesn't notice what I do, so why bother.
  2. The training was good, but the way my work station is set up makes it impossible to put into practice.
  3. Nobody else is doing it the new way, so why should I.
  4. It was great to get away for a day, but the training doesn't even relate to my job.
  5. I've always done it the other way, and I'm not going to change now.
  6. I don't remember how to do it, and there's nobody here to ask.
  7. The training was a waste of timeónobody could understand what the guy was telling us.
  8. Forget it: my co-workers will make fun of me if I change the way I do things.

Stop wasting money
Some day the economy will come swinging back. Invest in your people now by taking advantage of the huge efficiencies to be gained from making training sticky, so that when it does, you'll be ready to profit from it. Stop wasting your money. Instead, make PIE.

Learn more: To help organizations enjoy the benefits of training that sticks, OSSA has packaged best practices and easy-to-use tools into a powerful, one-hour presentation available to anyone interested, free of charge. Call Christy Sneddon, 905-614-3021, for more information.


Get the Inside Scoop on MOL Blitzes in 2009
MOL rollup results serve as gold mine for H&S planners

Good news for those who believe past behaviour is a reliable predictor of future behaviour. The Ministry of Labour (MOL) has posted the
results of four blitzes that affected the service sector in 2009: fork lifts; sprains and strains; young workers; and chemicals. A quick scan of this information will take some of the guesswork out of your 2010 planning.

The blitz rollup results show there's a good reason for MOL targeting service sector workplaces on these particular issues.

Taking musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as an example, here's the kind of information you can easily tease out of MOL's rollup results for the purpose of blending it into your 2010 health and safety strategy:

  • Grocery stores took the brunt of the MSD focus on the industrial sector.
  • MOL inspectors focused on:
    • Product handling: receiving, storage on racks, ease of access to all products in walk-in refrigerators/freezers, transportation of products throughout the store;
    • Cashiers' work stations;
    • Written policies and procedures, training and supervision.
OSSA will continue to promote awareness of MOL blitzes in 2010 in the Advocate and on its website.

The Latest Health & Safety Violations for Service Sector Firms
Opportunities to learn from others

Does the power of gravity need to be taken into account when dealing with heavy loads? Are workers likely to take shortcuts when fixing or adjusting moving equipment? And isn't it enough to have a maintenance plan? Find out here. In the last few weeks, organizations pleaded guilty to violations that resulted in untold suffering for workers, families and the community--and took an entirely preventable hit on their bottom line.

Does the power of gravity need to be taken into account when dealing with heavy loads?

Marble Unlimited, Ottawa, a manufacturer of synthetic marble and natural stone countertops, was fined $50,000 for a violation that resulted in an injury of a young worker. Marble and granite slabs were leaning on their sides on "A frame" storage racks. The young worker lost balance when tilting a 440-kilogram slab forward to stand it on its edge, causing the slab to pin the worker against another storage rack. The employer had failed to ensure the slabs were removed from the storage racks safely.

Saltillo Imports Inc., Toronto, a dealer of granite, marble and ceramic tile flooring, was fined $50,000 for a violation resulting in a worker being pinned to the floor of a shipping container by nine, 250-kilogram granite slabs. The slabs were held together in a group of 10 by a wooden frame. The workers opened the frame and removed a slab with a forklift; the remaining nine slabs, not supported or braced in any way, tipped over onto the worker. The employer pleaded guilty to failing to ensure proper precautions and safeguards were in place.

The point is... when workers move large heavy objects off a rack or platform, the transfer of weight can cause the platform, rack or even other objects to shift. Loads need to be properly restrained, and platforms properly bolted down. Although you can't see it, always consider how gravity might affect the movement of objects.

Are workers likely to take shortcuts when fixing or adjusting equipment?

Toromont Industries Ltd., London, a heavy equipment dealer, was fined $75,000 for a violation resulting in a critical injury to a technician doing maintenance on a piece of heavy equipment. The machinery had arrived missing part of the guard over its engine fan. The worker passed a hand over the opening in the guard. The worker's hand was pulled into the engine fan and amputated. While the worker had received safety training, Toromont had no procedure in place to assess hazards during maintenance work.

Sousa Ready Mix, Kingston, was fined $80,000 for a violation that resulted in a worker's arm getting caught when clearing sand from a conveyor in motion, and being seriously injured. The employer had failed to ensure the conveyor was cleared of sand only when motion had been stopped and the conveyor had been properly blocked to prevent movement.

Xerium Canada Inc., North Bay, a supplier and repairer of rolls used in paper-making machines, was fined $60,000 for a violation related to workers attempting to repair a machine used to mix bonding liquid. The power to the machine was turned off and the protective guards covering the machine's drive shaft were removed. The workers turned on the machine again, but did not replace the guards right away; the sleeve of one worker was caught in its moving parts. Xerium had failed to ensure the machine's driveshaft and gears were guarded to prevent access to their pinch points.

The point is... Machine guards and lockout procedures need to be seen as a worker's best friends. It may be inconvenient to, for example, remove the guard on a piece of equipment, perform the maintenance, replace the guard, turn on the equipment to see if it's working properly, and repeat as needed--but stories like these make it clear there's a reason for machine guards. It's human nature to take short cuts, which means the enforcement of health and safety procedures needs to be twice as powerful and compelling as human nature. Employers should make sure all guards are in place, even if they're missing on damaged equipment, before machinery is turned on.

Isn't it enough to have a maintenance plan?

The Corporation of the City of Orillia, was fined $50,000 for a violation when a lighting and sound technician at the Orillia Opera House fell 3.6 metres while descending from a raised audiovisual booth and grabbing a hand-hold that became detached from the wall. The employer had failed to ensure that the hand-hold was securely attached to the wall.

The point is... The Opera House likely had a perfectly acceptable maintenance plan, and just needed a process in place to ensure it was being rigorously followed.

Ontario Service Safety Alliance
5110 Creekbank Road, Suite 500,
Client Services Line: 1.888.478.OSSA